“A tree is like a wine glass on a dinner plate”

In 1978, James Urban had a chance meeting with a man named Tom Perry that forever changed the course of his career. Tom was a microbiologist with a PhD from Harvard. He was working for the Forest Service and was assigned to the urban forest department because, to hear Jim tell it, Tom didn’t fit… More

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Design for Maintenance

Urban environments depend on maintenance. In intensely used urban settings, the concept of low maintenance is not a practical reality. During the design process, landscape architects must identify the source and capability of that maintenance, and be sure that the maintenance team is informed of specialized requirements and system designs to support the success of… More

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Touch the Soil: Healthy Soils for Healthy Trees

For the last two weeks in December I’m re-posting some of my favorite blog posts from this year. Today’s, by James Urban, perfectly captures what we need to do in order to create healthier urban environments for trees and soils. It’s simple. Touch trees. – LM Alex Shigo, one of the most famous plant biologists and… More

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An Open Letter to the Complete Streets Movement

A large-canopy tree is a very beautiful thing. On this, most people will agree. But is not only beautiful—it also benefits its community. It provides shade and shelter, protects air quality, and reduces air temperatures, water runoff, and human stress. A street lined with such trees is a desirable place to live and work, and… More

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Illustrated Guide To Using Trees and Soils to Manage Stormwater

I’ve discussed using trees and soils (green infrastructure) to manage stormwater in two recent webinars. This is a rich and complex topic, so to help break it down into digestible pieces I organize it in to what I call the First Principles of Urban Stormwater Systems. Those first principles are listed in the illustration above…. More

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Against Mulch

In a recent webinar discussing the first principles of using trees and soil for stormwater management in urban areas, I mentioned that I am often not in favor of using mulch. In fact, I said that if it were up to me, mulch would not be included by default in most planting specifications. After the… More

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Webinar: Using Trees and Soils to Manage Urban Stormwater

Due to technical difficulties that prevented some people from joining last month’s webinar with guest speaker James Urban, FASLA, on the topic of “Using Trees and Soils in Urban Stormwater Management,” we will be offering the same webinar again on September 4th at 10am Pacific (please note that the start time will vary by time zone).

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Q & A: Tree Stability in Urban Areas

For today’s post, experts L. Peter MacDonagh and James Urban, FASLA tackle one of the most commonly asked questions we hear about whether tree stability is related to an evenly developed root ball. Here is what they have to say. -LM Without a completely developed root system on all four sides, won’t trees fail? What… More

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